Minnesota's Top 10 July 2018 Events

Summer in the Twin Cities hits its stride with outdoor concerts, the X Games, WNBA All-Star Game, and more

People performing a production at the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
Great River Shakespeare Festival

photo by Dan Norman

Great River Shakespeare Festival Through 8/5

Get your fill of classic theater this summer at the 15th running of Winona’s fest devoted to the great English bard. This year, featured plays—staged daily throughout July—include Venus in Fur, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, and The Merchant of Venice. Also part of this season is a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love. Free concerts, theater panels, and more fill out the packed schedule.

Fourth of July 7/4

Statewide Independence Day highlights include Red, White, and Boom, which spreads out along the Stone Arch Bridge and Minneapolis riverfront with concerts, booths, activities, and more for an expected crowd of 75,000. Duluth, Mankato, St. Cloud, and Rochester host city-wide festivals, as well. Also, Forest Lake will host a multi-day carnival and parade; Excelsior’s firework display is on Lake Minnetonka; Delano’s five-day fest includes Minnesota’s oldest and largest July 4 parade; and Elysian has five days of fun, too. Historic Fort Snelling’s Fourth features cannons, military dress parades, fife and drum music, and more.

A band performing at the Basilica Block Party.
Basilica Block Party

Photo by Coppersmith Photography

Basilica Block Party 7/6-7

Americana rockers Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, alternative hitmakers CAKE, soul act Fitz and the Tantrums, and Prince’s old band The Revolution highlight this year’s Basilica Block Party, the weekend outdoor music festival in downtown Minneapolis. Friday headliner Isbell’s 2017 album The Nashville Sound won Best Americana Album, and its single “If We Were Vampires” won Best American Roots Song at this year’s Grammy Awards. On Saturday, CAKE returns to the Great Clips stage (they last played in 2012) with a cache of quirky hits, like “Never There,” spanning back to the ’90s. Also on the lineup: BØRNS, Third Eye Blind, Andy Grammer, Judah & the Lion, and more. Annually, event proceeds go toward the Basilica of St. Mary’s restoration and outreach.

Digital Extra: Basilica Blowout

Check out roaring, stomping highlights of the Basilica Block Party over the years, then find out who is headlining this month.

Wilder Pageant 7/6-7, 7/13-14, 7/20-21

On the wet, grassy banks of Plum Creek in Walnut Grove is the annual staging of a play about its most famous former resident, Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Every weekend in July, the elaborate production features an actual horse-drawn covered wagon, a church raising, square dance, fire demonstrations, and more. Narrated by an actress playing a 70-year-old Wilder, the pageant detailing her family’s life in the area was developed 40 years ago to entertain Little House fans visiting.

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill 7/7

While the country power couple have toured together before, the Soul2Soul Tour highlights The Rest of Our Life, the first album they recorded. Along with their dramatic duets, like “I Need You” and “It’s Your Love,” the biggest hits from their solo careers are also part of the show, which stops at Target Center in Minneapolis.

The Twin Cities River Rats performing at the Minneapolis Aquatennial.

photo by Dusty Hoskovec

Minneapolis Aquatennial 7/18-21

After July 4, eye-popping fireworks return as part of Aquatennial festivities. On Saturday, July 21, the Target Fireworks display—one of the largest in the U.S.—kicks off at 10 p.m. The Stone Arch Bridge in downtown Minneapolis is an ideal spot to see the colors reflected in the Mississippi. The pre-festivities include live music, treats, and food trucks. Earlier in the week, there’s the Torchlight Parade boasting marching bands, princesses, and dancers. The packed schedule also includes water sport exhibitions, tennis matches, a 5K, and more to get people out and about during the best days of summer.

Digital Extra: Rockets’ Red Glare

They don’t happen on July Fourth, but the fireworks of the Minneapolis Aquatennial are some of the biggest in the country. See what’s up downtown.

A BMX rider performing a trick at the summer X Games at U.S. Bank Stadium.
X Games

photo by Tristan Shu/ESPN Images

X Games 7/19-22

At the 2017 X Games, skateboarder Alec Majerus got a standing ovation for his smooth rails, jumps, and backside flips at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Rochester native got second place in the Men’s Skateboard Street final, and this year he’s looking for gold. Stick around for motocross freestyle, women’s skateboarding, and the BMX Big Air, where you can see people fly sans wings. Adding to the allure, Zedd, Brother Ali, Ice Cube, and Kaskade make up the music lineup.

All Pints North 7/28

Come for the beer, stay for the food, music, and a Lake Superior view. More than 120 craft breweries are converging at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth for an all-you-can-sip day (a commemorative tasting glass is provided) on the water for a 21-plus crowd. Cover band Viva Knievel will provide rocking entertainment. Castle Danger Brewing and Barrel Theory Beer are among 100-plus area breweries with special beers on tap. Besides sampling suds, take one of the beer education classes from Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, grab some food from Tig’s Smok’n Pig BBQ, and spread out with friends on a blanket or lawn chairs to make the most of it.

WNBA All-Star Game 7/28

If anyone deserves to host the WNBA All-Star Game, it’s the Minnesota Lynx at Target Center. After winning four of the past seven championships (with six appearances), the team is a dynasty. In fact, forward Maya Moore won the game’s past two MVP titles, and four Lynx (plus coach Cheryl Reeve) made the 2017 squad.

Loring Park Art Festival 7/28-29

For an entire weekend of art immersion, head to Loring Park in Minneapolis. Featured among the 140 artists across disciplines showcasing in tents are area photographers Tony Small and Jamie Heiden, potter Julia Timm, painters Jennifer Patnaude and Karri Jamison, and jeweler Linda Banning. Both days also feature live music, by local acts including Rochester blues singer Annie Mack and the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra. For kid-friendly activities, the Open Eye Figure Theatre Driveway Tour will host puppet shows on Sunday afternoon, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art will have a “play with clay” session.